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iPMI Magazine Speaks With Sigal Atzmon, CEO, Medix Group

In this exclusive iPMI Magazine interview, Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Magazine, sits down with Sigal Atzmon, CEO, Medix Group, to discuss who Medix Global are, the common international medical insurance market opportunities they assist with and what we can expect from Medix Global in the coming years.

Please introduce yourself and background in the international private medical insurance market:

I am the founder and CEO of the Medix Group, a global healthcare services company. I founded the company in 2006 after holding various executive positions in leading financial institutions and had a personal encounter with the world of healthcare which made me realise that it was time for a change.

In order to ensure that people have access to our service, Medix strategy is to partner with leading PMI and IPMI providers around the world and over the years has provided service to patients in over 90 countries. By partnering with us, IPMI providers can offer reassurance to their members and a promise that no matter where they are around the world, be it for relocation, high mobility needs, or a specific work assignment, they will receive access and implementation of quality care, with proven better medical outcomes.

Who is Medix Global?

Medix is a shared value company which provides a variety of innovative healthcare management services, including: Personal Medical Case Management (PMCM), Health Prevention Services, Tailored Services for High-Mobility Employees, Medical Concierge, AI & Digital Health solutions, Medical Governance and more. We have a team of 300 in house doctors who work alongside a quality accredited network of over 3,000 specialists around the world to help patients navigate the complex healthcare maze. Our specialist teams provide objective reviews of medical cases to ensure that the original diagnosis is accurate, and that the treatment pathway is optimised. We provide multidisciplinary assessments, recommendations and coordination of quality medical care, drawing on the best experts around the globe, providing peace of mind to our customers that they are receiving the best possible care, wherever they might be in the world.

Medix plays a disruptive role in the healthcare sector by providing patients with the tools and objective information needed to maximise their own health outcomes. We have partnered with the world’s leading technology and AI companies to provide a range of AI driven & digital healthcare solutions, ranging from helping customers assess their personal risk profile, prevent developing serious medical conditions, like cancer and cardiovascular diseases, through smart primary care solutions, who offer self diagnosis and access to real time, live chat with a doctor and Global Personal Medical Case Management solutions.

By shifting the traditional power balance between patient, doctor and the payer, Medix is leading the democratisation of healthcare, empowering patients while helping health insurers to play a more active role in their customers’ patient journey.

When it comes to serving clients such as international medical insurance companies what can Medix Global offer?

Medix offers insurance companies the opportunity to differentiate their service offering and play a much greater positive role in their customers’ medical journey, all while ensuring that healthcare premiums remain sustainable and optimise claims spending. Partnering with Medix allows insurance companies to shift away from the outdated model of passive payer and becoming a true health player. In parallel, to ensuring evidence based personalised care, through Medix’ services, insurers are also able to help avoid overuse and misuse of healthcare services, and hence an indirect result is also a strong medical governance tool. Medix provided IPMI and PMI leaders with proven better medical outcomes, higher customer satisfaction, and brand loyalty, both on the individual and the corporate solutions segment.

Consumers are increasingly expecting that their insurance providers do more than just reimburse medical expenses. They want a provider who understands their individual needs, one that can offer tailored, patient centric care when they face a difficult or complex medical condition. That’s exactly what Medix does. We ensure that members are receiving access and implementation to quality care, no matter where they are around the world. I feel that every IPMI or PMI provider would want to make such a commitment to their members and this is why partnering with the world’s leading insurance companies, who share that same vision, is a natural fit for Medix.

We are very proud of the success and impact we have, making a real difference in people’s life!

What major challenges can Medix Global solve for global medical insurers?

Medix’ operates in the intersection between the Payer, Provider and Patient, offering a unique perspective on the gaps and needs of each party. In today’s healthcare world, there are significant variations between care provided in different regions and countries, and even when we dive deeper into countries we can find significant variations in the quality and standard of care between cities, and even hospitals. At Medix we help flatten this inequality of care curve between different locations, while empowering patients and ensuring that all members have access to accountable, personalised, quality care, which is evidence based, following international medical guidelines. Nothing more and nothing less.

In addition to treating illness as it occurs, Medix empowers members with the needed knowledge and tools to take personalised preventative actions. Leveraging our access to technological innovations including AI and big data, coupled with our global team of specialists, Medix is able to drive short and long term behavioral change and assist our insurance partners to provide substantial value added services to policyholders.

As the healthcare landscape around the world changes, IPMI and PMI providers are facing new challenges, Medix helps its partners to turn these challenges into opportunities.

In terms of geographic reach, which countries and geographies are Medix Global active?

As a leading global company, we provide services across over 90 countries. We have offices in London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Tel Aviv, and are currently setting up additional offices in Bangkok, Melbourne and Dubai.

We currently serve patients across the globe and manage medical information in over 22 different languages, 24/7. Medix’ global reach ensures that our clients can access the very best medical services no matter where they are in the world.

Can you walk us through the reach of your international provider network?

Medix enjoys long standing professional relationships with leading specialists and medical centers of excellence across the world. Our in-house teams, including our 300 medical doctors, are supported by a global, quality accredited network of over 3,000 medical specialists and 1,500 medical centers spread across the world, primarily in the US, Europe and leading centers in Asia. While there are companies that boast very large commercial networks, I would like to stress the point of a quality accredited network as Medix’ network is not a commercial or discount based network but rather an accredited list of quality specialists which was cultivated over our many years of research and clinical experience, led by our dedicated Research Department and Medical Network Team. Every one of these specialists has been vetted and scored based on a proprietary accreditation process to ensure that they meet our criteria.

Business travelers, leisure travelers, expats and medical tourists – which segment do you provide personal medical case management services for?

Medix services fill significant gaps which exist in the healthcare sector the world over, and not limited to a specific segment of members or insurance products. Whether you travel frequently, reside in a tier one city or are on reassignment in a country which is not your home country, it can be extremely challenging to navigate and make informed decisions when dealing with a serious medical condition, and trying to navigate through the unknowns of the local healthcare system. Of course, for expats who often hold IPMI policies, the complexity is twofold as in parallel, they are also dealing with the fact that they are not in their home county and face language barriers and cultural challenges which can make the medical journey even more challenging. Leveraging Medix’ established global presence, experience and deep understanding of the intricacies of a variety of health landscapes, we can guide them and ensure they receive great quality care wherever they are based. They don’t always need to be repatriated to their home country for treatment, in fact, they are able to receive guidance and advice from leading specialists globally to support the local coordination, which provides them with much needed reassurance.

Aside from Prevention, Digital Health Solutions & Personal Medical Case Management, we have a variety of services tailored for high mobility employees and frequent business travelers, including pre-assignment screening and “healthcare orientation” to provide members with knowledge about the healthcare sector in their new destination.

What are the differences between Personal Medical Case Management and a medical 2nd opinion service?

In today’s dynamic medical world, Second Medical Opinions (SMO) while having its merits is simply not sufficient nor relevant anymore, hence the very low utilisation rates compared with Personal Medical Case Management Services. When requesting an SMO, usually patients will receive a single recommendation, without opportunities for care coordination, local referrals, long term follow ups alongside holding an on-going dialogue with the appointed, dedicated Medical Case Manager Doctor and Nurse available at any time, let alone on-going communication between the Medix Case Manager Doctor and the existing, local treating physician. In many cases, I have seen how overwhelming this can be, as patients leave an SMO with more questions than answers, especially if the second opinion advice contradicts treatment recommendation originally provided. Further, medical journeys today are complex, require inputs across different disciplines and tend to be longer and have many points where the patient is faced with difficult questions and needs to make what can be, literally, life or death decisions. As healthcare providers, we need to ensure that the services we offer are relevant and provide a real, actionable added value to patients.

Personal Medical Case Management by contrast, will never leave a patient with an unanswered question or concern. We appoint a dedicated team comprising of a Case Manager – Doctor, a Nurse and a Medical Coordinator to accompany every patient throughout their medical journey. The Case Manager obtains multiple consultations and holds multidisciplinary discussion with leading experts to ensure that all aspects of the case are evaluated and a truly holistic approach is applied. For each case, we see an average of 13-15 medical consultations which are conducted on the patient’s behalf as opposed to the 1-off consultations provided via SMO. Personal Medical Case Management is a proactive, dynamic, on-going and multidisciplinary process versus a short, one off, single discipline SMO.

In an ever-expanding digital world, what role is technology playing in Medix’ services?

I am very excited about the role technology is already playing, not only for Medix, but broadly in the healthcare sector. Technologies powered by Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, medical wearables and various digital health applications increase accuracy, streamline processes and reduce inefficiencies, essentially transforming the way we provide and consume healthcare.

While penetration of wearable devices is still relatively low, and the primary applications are more wellness focused, the possibilities are increasing with medical-grade wearables taking many forms such as patches, shirts, trousers, socks and more, embedded with technology that does not impede our life, yet is entirely focused on improving it. This will enable us to collect data about members on a continuous basis and not wait until they are ill.

Machine learning and AI are another revolutionary enabler through their ability to analyse vast amounts of data gathered from various sources e.g. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) to find patterns, associations, insights and ultimately make predictions and recommendations. Based on advanced algorithms like Patients Like Me these are surely playing a much bigger role today and improving predictability and accuracy of medical care. AI powered chatbots, for instance, already serve as a triage tool for patients by answering basic health queries and assessing symptoms.

Studies estimate that we are facing global shortage of 7.2m healthcare workers, a figure that will likely double by 2035. With this in mind, AI is a critical element in the healthcare landscape of the future and overtime, we will see more and more applications of this technology. This helps reduce unnecessary hospital and doctor visits while also empowering patients and providing them with information to help make informed decisions.

AI is currently also used for diagnosing radiology images with a very high level of accuracy. It is not to say, that AI will replace all doctors, but it can significantly increase efficiencies, augment their capabilities, standarise care and provide a powerful decision support tool and streamline healthcare processes. The way I see it, these technologies are a powerful enabler of the democratisation of healthcare and Medix is proud to be at the forefront of this exciting movement.

Moving forward, what can we expect to see from Medix Global in the years to come?

This is a very exciting year for Medix. We are significantly expanding our presence across Asia Pacific, China Mainland and the Middle East while in parallel restructuring some of our operations in Europe. We are also working in partnership with leading tech companies to offer new and innovative services.

Being very passionate about what we do I am looking forward to continue making a real difference for our partners and people around the world. I am proud to continue to improve accessibility of quality medical care, flatten the inequality of care curve and be at the forefront of the democratisation of healthcare, giving every member and patient a voice, a personalised solution and an impactful meaning in the future of our healthcare landscapes.

I am proud to promise better health and execute, deliver on our promises.

Along with my family, this is my life’s meaningful purpose.

 

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How To Submit News, Articles and Case Studies To iPMI Magazine

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Using the latest technology iPMI Magazine can deliver critical business communications to an eclectic worldwide readership from international medical payor to provider. 

News classifications include:

Write to ipmi[at]ipmimagazine.com to learn more or to submit content. 

About iPMI Magazine

Due to the nomadic nature of the international private medical insurance (IPMI) industry, iPMI Magazine is an internet based news service for worldwide insurance and assistance professionals who need to understand the impacts of insurance and healthcare policy, regulatory, and legislative developments. Over 40,000 senior level business decision makers, in over 120 countries, rely on iPMI Magazine to stay 1 step ahead of the risk and on the inside track of international PMI. Covering business travellers, high net worth individuals, expatriate and leisure travel markets, iPMI Magazine is the only international news source covering the most exciting sector of international health insurance: international private medical insurance.

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3 Exclusive Summer Offers From iPMI Magazine

Leading international private medical insurance publisher iPMI Magazine is excited to launch 3 exclusive summer offers for international medical insurance market payors and providers.

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Covering all aspects and sectors of the international private medical insurance market from medical payor to medical provider the iPMI Magazine network is where the world of IPMI go to network with new partners and customers, expand global provider service networks and protect insureds.

All sectors of the business are represented from IPMI, assistance, ambulance, claims management, cost containment, funeral directors, technology and more and with a truly global reach the network can place your brand in the right place, at the right time, in front of the right people.

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About iPMI Magazine

For 10 years over 40,000 senior level business decision makers, in over 120 countries, rely on iPMI Magazine to stay 1 step ahead of the risk and on the inside track of international PMI. Covering business travellers, high net worth individuals, expatriate and leisure travel markets, iPMI Magazine is the only truly international news platform covering the most exciting sector of international health insurance: international private medical insurance.

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iPMI Magazine is an incredible case study in the age of new wave digital media! For advertisers catering for expatriate and business travel insurance and assistance, it has drawn respected and targeted exposure, in a field previously limited in scope and content. As a result more industry leaders are learning that this is not only a viable growth sector globally, but also about the overwhelming importance of international health insurance, and how it affects our personal lives and work environment.

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Chris Knight is a true professional. He is diligent and has an excellent understanding of business relationship management combined with an enthusiastic drive. He is respected by us as a leader in his specialist field and a joy to do business with.

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iPMI magazine is an excellent media for brokers & insurers with an excellent internet exposure.Thank you for your collaboration with AOC Insurance Broker.

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Enhancing Plans To Meet Fresh Challenges In The International Private Medical Insurance Market

AXA Global Healthcare has announced it will be enhancing its IPMI plans from October 2017 to meet the fresh challenges in the International Private Medical Insurance market. These updates include improvements to key offerings such as the International Health Plan, and Global Protect Health Plan in Hong Kong.

Enhancements have been made across several areas of cover, including policy limits on the Standard and Prestige Plus plans, improved ambulance transport benefit and an increased drugs and dressings and out-patient limit. Additionally, AXA is also introducing two new excess options to its Standard plan to give individual customers more options to tailor their premiums.  

Kevin Melton, Director of Sales and Marketing commented, “We’re always reviewing our global health insurance propositions to make sure we can offer our customers the service and cover they need to live their life to the fullest. The global healthcare market is always evolving, and that’s why we’ve updated our proposition to ensure it can better meet the needs of our customers, wherever they are in the world. Whether they want a comprehensive health plan or cover in an emergency, we hope that these enhancements will provide the extra flexibility our customers require, so they have complete confidence in their plan.”

Key changes include:

  • Overall policy limit – AXA has increased its overall annual policy limit on Standard and Prestige Plus, to offer customers additional confidence that its plans can cover them for the treatment they may need.
  • Out-patient combined limit – treatment cost varies by country. So to ensure customers can continue to get the most out of their Comprehensive and Prestige plans, AXA has increased its out-patient limit which covers diagnostic tests as well as physiotherapy, and visits to a doctor.
  • Ambulance transport – by removing the limit for ambulance transportation across all levels of cover, AXA now covers the cost of ambulance transport in full for its customers. Based on market analysis, AXA identified this as a key area of improvement for customers.
  • New excess options – AXA understands that individual clients who choose the Standard International Health Plan are often happy to pay for day-to-day medical costs themselves, but still want cover for any serious or emergency treatment. AXA has therefore introduced two higher excess options on the Standard plan without out-patient cover. This option can also help manage premiums for any individual customers who are concerned about price increases.
  • Drugs and dressings benefit – AXA has listened to feedback from members and increased the drugs and dressings limit on Comprehensive and Prestige plans.

The product enhancements also cover country-specific plans, including the Global Protect Health Plan, available to large corporate clients in Hong Kong.

Kevin Melton concluded, “These enhancements along with the our core offerings which include a second opinion service and evacuation and repatriation as standard means that customers can rest assured that with AXA, we’ll be there to help them whenever they need us.”

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Now Health International Reveals Top Twenty International Private Medical Insurance (iPMI) Claim Diagnoses

Leading international private medical insurance provider, Now Health International (www.now-health.com) has analysed almost 120,000 claims made by its customers and can now reveal the top twenty diagnoses in terms of frequency since the company started trading in 2011.  

Topping the list is Acute Bronchitis followed by sprains and strains and then lower back pain.  The full list is as follows:

  1. Acute Bronchitis
  2. Sprains and strains
  3. Lower back pain
  4. Acute Nasopharyngitis (common cold)
  5. Diarrhea and Gastroenteritis
  6. Fever
  7. Cough
  8. Urinary infection
  9. Conjunctivitis
  10. Gastritis
  11. Chest pain
  12. Rashes
  13. Headache
  14. Cervicalgia (neck pain)
  15. Vitamin D deficiency
  16. Influenza
  17. Asthma
  18. Eczema
  19. Abdominal and pelvic pain
  20. Dizziness and giddiness 

The top ten claims accounted for 77% of all claims made and the top twenty, 17%. Claims for list-topping Acute Bronchitis/Bronchiolitis amounted to 16% of all claims spread across the four years.

Although it didn’t make the top 20, Now Health has also somewhat interestingly received 29 claims for dog/other mammal bites over the last four years.  

Now Health’s Marketing and Ecommerce Director, Alison Massey, said, “As an Asian-headquartered business, much of our customer base reside in this part of the world. The region often experiences poor air quality due to pollution and other factors such as haze that comes from crop burning so it seems logical that a respiratory illness should top our list.” 

Massey continued, “We were also initially surprised at the number of claims associated with Vitamin D deficiency. However, we have discovered that it is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide for both adults and children. And with many of our members based in the Middle East who spend much of their time in indoors and out of the blazing hot sun, it’s more understandable.”

Now Health International is one of the fastest growing providers of IPMI solutions for Global Expatriates, High-Net-Worth individuals and Small to Medium Sized Enterprises.  Just four years old and with more than 130 years of collective IPMI management experience, Now Health already has offices in the UK, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and Jakarta, with Abu Dhabi coming soon.

 

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New Force In International Private Health Insurance Launched

MediCare International has rebranded and launched into the UK and international protection markets with a new name, April International UK.

 

MediCare International was acquired by the April Group over three years ago.  The April Group, formed in France more than 35 years ago, is an internationally known and respected insurance services company with operations in 37 different countries.  They look after almost six-million policyholders worldwide, representing some 86 different nationalities located in more than 120 countries.  

April International UK will remain at their City of London Offices, but the rebranding has provided an opportunity to significantly enhance their existing group and individual international health plans, and offer new short term plans for periods up to 12 months. In addition, an international student policy covering both foreign students coming to the UK and other student nationalities who choose to study worldwide has been unveiled.

All plans will additionally automatically include important additional services giving clients real time security information in overseas territories, access to second medical opinions and enhanced emergency blood transfusion services.

Debbie Purser CEO of  April International UK said, "We are delighted to announce the rebranding of our company, representing as it does an important step in the development of April International, as it moves closer to its vision of becoming  a world-leading player in the international private medical insurance market. April International UK will be a larger and ultimately more dynamic company, as we will be able to draw on a larger pool of resources and skills to meets the needs of a far broader global client base."

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Anthem Expands Affordable Mountain Health Plan To Small And Large Employers

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado (Anthem) announced the expansion of its new lower cost mountain health plan, created in partnership with a community hospital in Eagle County and the region’s leading health care provider, to large and small group employers.

Anthem in January began selling a new health plan created in collaboration with Vail Valley Medical Center in Eagle County and Centura Health -- which includes St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, Mercy Regional Medical Center and a network of about 75 providers in Summit, La Plata and Montezuma counties – to individuals purchasing insurance on and off the Colorado health exchange marketplace. The expansion now allows small and large employers in Eagle, Summit, La Plata and Montezuma counties to purchase Anthem’s Mountain Enhanced HMO plan effective July 1.

Mountain Enhanced is exclusive to the Centura Health network and Vail Valley Medical Center, and brings together three organizations committed to finding ways to enhance the availability of, and accessibility to, quality health care services across the full continuum of need at reduced costs. This plan helps to keep health care local, giving residents the ability to receive care from physicians and providers in the communities where they live and work, while addressing the high health insurance premiums in Colorado’s mountain communities.

“Anthem is very pleased with the reception Mountain Enhanced has received from individual consumers, which is why we’re excited to expand it to an even broader market as part of our commitment to ensure that high quality, high value health care remains accessible and affordable throughout Colorado,” said Mike Ramseier, president and general manager, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado.

“We continue to find ways to expand our partnership to support accessible health care solutions for our mountain communities,” said Gary Campbell, president and CEO, Centura Health. “By expanding this plan, we are helping to improve their access to high-value care, at an affordable cost in their own community.”

Mountain Enhanced Blue will include Anthem’s unique benefits such as its 24/7 nurse line and 360 degree health and wellness programs like Condition Care, which helps members with complex medical conditions receive help following their doctor’s care plan.

“As Eagle County’s nonprofit community hospital, we are committed to finding viable initiatives to address rising health insurance premiums,” says VVMC President and CEO Doris Kirchner. “Mountain Enhanced is a good option for businesses to provide quality healthcare close to home and at a reduced premium.”

SOURCE: https://ipmimagazine.com/medical-health-insurance/en/health-medical-travel-expatriate-insurance-product-news/item/3442-anthem-expands-affordable-mountain-health-plan-to-small-and-large-employers

 

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Insurers risk being sidelined by internet-savvy consumer generation

Scarred by the financial crisis, price conscious buyers aged under 30 are driving a fundamental shift in how insurance is bought, according to Towers Watson. A survey  of over 7,000 consumers across Europe’s largest and fastest-growing markets - including the UK, France, Germany and Turkey – found the advance of technology increasingly distancing the millennial generation of buyers from traditional purchase channels and sources of advice and influence.

Tammy Richardson, UK head of insurance management consultancy at Towers Watson, commented: “Brand power and the traditional broker role are in decline as a new generation of buyers drive a rise in direct sales online. Consumers are increasingly in control and now more likely to ‘pull’ information from comparison websites, smartphones and social media than respond to ‘pushed’ communication.”

The survey, The shifting balance of power, also found many under-25s to be far more risk aware and interested in financial security than previously thought, underlining the need for insurers to find new methods of engaging with these younger buyers. Tammy Richardson noted that this shifting balance of power in the customer/provider relationship could present an opportunity for insurers. “With the right digital distribution technology in place, companies will be able to meet emerging consumer needs to more easily compare and choose financial products tailored to their preferences,” she said.

Previous Towers Watson research supports the position that technology platforms are expected to play a key future role, with more than four in 10 senior property and casualty insurance executives rating digital distribution as the most attractive channel for acquisition in the next three years.  A quarter of life insurers also put top priority on digital distribution capability.

Tammy Richardson said: “An important implication of this survey, in our opinion, is that insurers will need to further enhance their efforts to make product benefits more transparent and use data and analytics in new ways to improve their understanding of customer behaviours. This is likely to be central to future profitability, driving strategy for customer acquisition, retention and portfolio management. There is a lot of attention focused on data (big data), but the data itself will not provide a strategic advantage for insurers; how they use it is key and that is why analytics has such an important role to play."

“The danger is that if insurers do not get to grips with how buyers use of technology to make financial decisions is evolving, other digital businesses with relevant expertise may step in.”
 
The survey also reveals a high level of consumer ignorance across all age groups about the benefits and risks of the insurance products they are buying, which is likely to get worse as direct sales continue to rise. Sixty-five percent of consumers over 45 (50% of all ages) across Europe would still buy insurance products even if they did not understand the benefits or risks.

According to Towers Watson, these findings further highlight the risk that some products will be deemed by regulators to have been sold without sufficient understanding from those buying them or to have been inappropriate to the needs of consumers.

Tammy Richardson said: “Further changes in distribution channels will not devolve insurers of responsibility for explaining what their customers are buying.”

Key survey findings included:

  • Young consumers are the most likely to save regularly. Over 50% of 25-34 year-olds in the survey said that they save on a monthly basis, as did 46% of 18-24 year olds.
  • Under 25s across Europe have become more risk averse in the last five years than any other age group.
  • Less than 10% of 18-24 year olds would anticipate buying common forms of insurance from an agent or broker. Banks remain an important distribution channel in some countries, particularly for life insurance.
  • Price is the dominant consideration for 70% of UK 18-34 year olds when buying motor insurance.
  • Less than 10% of UK survey respondents cited brand reputation as an influence on their buying decision for life, home and motor insurance.

ABOUT THE SURVEY

Towers Watson commissioned a consumer survey in 2014 across seven European countries to identify or confirm financial services buying trends. The countries covered were the six largest markets in Europe – France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and the UK – plus the region’s most rapidly emerging market, Turkey. A minimum of 1000 people took part in each country as part of a total survey sample of 7,136.

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APRIL: 2014 Annual Results In Line, A Year Of Resilience And Investment

APRIL posted 2014 consolidated sales of €766.3m, down 1.6% from 2013 based on reported data and down slightly (0.8%) like for like. Health & Personal Protection was down 0.9% based on reported data and down 1.0% like for like. The Property & Casualty division, mainly hit by foreign currency fluctuations, was down 3.6% based on reported data and down 1.4% like for like.

As a result of the significant investment required to prepare for the future and non-recurring expenses arising from the consolidation and streamlining of our businesses, current EBIT fell 12.1% to €76.1m compared to 2013, as announced in our January press releases.

APRIL maintained a strong current EBIT margin of 9.9%, with Health & Personal Protection holding up particularly well and a slight decline in Property & Casualty, mainly due to non-recurring items.

Group non-current expenses for the year came to €6.8m and included in particular the cost of rescinding a business as general agent in La Reunion (€4.8m) and the net costs of closing our operations in Argentina, Chile, Hungary and Belarus. As a result of these events, the Group posted an EBIT of €69.3m, down 18.4% from 2013.

After a €30.5m corporate income tax charge, consolidated net income (Group share) amounted to€36.6m.

Health & Personal Protection

The Health & Personal Protection division reported a 0.9% decline in sales resulting from a 2.6% fall in brokerage commissions, partially offset by a 2.0% rise in premiums.

The decrease in brokerage commissions is due to the Company's decision to stop capturing loss-making individual employee health insurance policies under the National Interbranch Agreement (ANI). This decline was mitigated by the strong performance of the health insurance business in the senior and self-employed market segments and the growth in mortgage and group insurance, supported by solid fundamentals and Group investment. The increase in insurance premiums was driven by the expansion of the individual, group and expatriate health and personal protection portfolios.

Despite the initial impact of ANI, estimated at €3.7m, and the cost of around €3.8m for setting up the new IT systems, the division posted a stable current EBIT margin of 17.7%, due in part to improvements in the risk-carrying business and the Group's operations in Switzerland and the UK.

Property & Casualty

In Property & Casualty, the 2.1% increase in premiums was driven by new partnerships as well as the revival of affinity member operations within the framework of a significantly reinsured model in line with Group policy.

The 3.5% like-for-like fall in commissions was due to the decline in revenues from the distribution network and the travel insurance and assistance business, affected by challenging economic conditions particularly in South America and Europe. This decline was partly offset by wholesale brokerage operations which delivered strong sales but were affected by increasing IT costs.

Moreover, non-recurring expenses, including the costs of restructuring and consolidating the business models of some of the foreign subsidiaries and cost related to the streamlining of our French operations, have pushed current EBIT into a loss.

Non-current expenses, almost exclusively borne by the Property & Casualty division, led it to record an EBIT loss of €9.9m. These expenses include the impact of the withdrawal of some countries as part of the streamlining of our mobility and assistance solutions (for example, Argentina and Chile are now being managed by our US operations).

Financial position

APRIL's balance sheet at 31 December 2014 reflects the Group's strong business model and prudent financial management: consolidated shareholders' equity (Group share) stood at €578.9m, up €28.6m, while financial debt remained immaterial at €3.7m and net cash,adjusted for deposit accounts held in relation to the Company's cash management policy, increased by €8.1m to €198.6m. 

Dividend

In accordance with our declared policy of guaranteeing a 25% dividend payout ratio supplemented by the remaining cash surplus after coverage of capital expenditure and the previous year’s dividend, a dividend of €0.42 per share for 2014, corresponding to a total dividend payout of €17.2m, will be proposed at the Annual General Meeting.

This is equivalent to a dividend yield of 3.7% over the average share price since 1 January, exceeding analysts’ expectations.

Outlook

The Group starts 2015 with a strong financial position.

APRIL will pursue its strategy of being a multi-specialist operating in France and abroad by focusing on four main goals:

-       To transform new regulatory requirements into opportunities, the full potential of which will not materialise before 2016,

-       To develop and accelerate its multi-channel distribution strategy

-       To improve profitability and boost growth of international operations

-       To increase its operational efficiency

In order to achieve these goals, APRIL will capitalise on its core strengths: its capacity for segmentation, reputed quality of service and customer-centric approach, driven by a strengthened management team.

Within an overall environment that will remain demanding, 2015 will be a year of continued investment for the Group, enabling it to consolidate its business model and market positioning and ultimately return to growth.

At this early stage in the year, Group management expects current EBIT to stay relatively flat in 2015.

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APRIL Travel Protection Offers Economical Insurance Solution for Frequent Business Travelers

APRIL Travel Protectionis keeping up with business travelers' ever-evolving needs by offering budget-friendly policies with premiums starting at $193 per year for an unlimited number of trips. APRIL's Universal and Elite Annual Multi-Trip Travel Insurance policies give businesses the peace-of-mind that their travel plans are protected in the event of an emergency or change in schedule.

APRIL's annual multi-trip policies, especially the Universal Annual Multi-Trip plan, are ideal for those who travel three or more times per year, never for more than 90 consecutive days and are more concerned with an economical policy than higher coverage limits. The Universal Annual Multi-Trip policy starts at $193 per year and offers travelers with the following benefits:

  • Trip Interruption of up to $5,000 for situations such as sickness, injury or death, weather and natural disasters, terrorism or strikes, military or jury duty, bankruptcy or mechanical issues with the travel supplier, stolen passports or visas and other similar situations
  • Emergency Medical Expenses of up to $50,000
  • Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation Coverage up to $100,000
  • Baggage and Personal Effects Coverage up to $1,000
  • Trip Delay (six hours or longer) Coverage of $100 per day (up to $750 maximum)
  • Baggage Delay (12 hours or longer) Coverage of $100 per day (up to $300 maximum)
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment Coverage up to $25,000

APRIL also offers an Elite Annual Multi-Trip Policy, with premiums starting at $370 annually, which expands upon the above mentioned benefits and also offers Family Plan Pricing, meaning that only one parent needs to purchase a policy and all children will be covered at no extra expense. Upgrades to both plans are available at an additional fee.

"Business travelers tend to assess their insurance needs based on the likelihood of anticipated issues," said Jason Schreier, CEO of APRIL-USA. "The fallacy in this method is that interruptions, illnesses, and other issues can be most detrimental when they arise unexpectedly. This is where travel protection is imperative," Schreier continued.

"There is a gap in the typical U.S. health insurance policy which leaves Americans traveling abroad at risk for higher deductibles, or in many cases completely unprotected should a health-related emergency arise," Schreier added. "Americans, as a standard, insure themselves for 365 days per year for all other lines of insurance. Frequent travelers would be prudent to maintain that coverage year round," noted Schreier.

"APRIL's annual multi-trip policies are the most economical method for business travelers to cover themselves in the event of an unexpected emergency or change in plans," Schreier added.

The innovative travel insurance company offers its signature Stress Less Benefits with every policy sold, providing instant adjudication which pays to resolve clients' problems in real-time for most covered benefits while the vacationer or businessperson is still traveling. Issues covered under APRIL's Stress Less Benefits include: severe weather and natural disasters, injury, sickness, death, job loss or relocations, supplier default, terrorism, military duty, strikes and more.

Travelers also have the option of expanding upon APRIL's annual policies with a Trip Cancellation Plan which covers cancellations based on weather or natural disasters, an uncertain employment situation, health related issues, terrorism and other situations. A separate Cancel for Any Reason upgrade can also be purchased for those who are traveling with someone as part of a new relationship, may have an unexpected work conflict, have a relative expecting a newborn baby, or just want the peace of mind to be able to change their plans without losing their travel investment.

APRIL's pro-active approach to support keeps up with business travelers' ever-evolving needs with a multi-lingual team and 24/7 toll-free access from most destinations, as well as convenient support channels including Skype, texting, email and live chat. APRIL is the first company to pioneer these forward-thinking support mechanisms since the launch of its U.S. division in April 2013.

With the goal of Changing the Image of Insurance, APRIL has become a market leader in travel protection in Europe and Latin America with a presence in over 40 countries and more than two million policyholders worldwide. APRIL strives to provide simple agreements and services that are easily understood by customers. While most U.S. travelers purchase insurance policies they hope they will never need, APRIL creates a nurturing relationship with every client and educates policy holders on the full scope of support and services available to them.

For more information, contact APRIL Travel Protection at 855-277-4587, emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.AprilTravelProtection.com.

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